Congrats on your new Sherpa Sites powered outdoor blog! You now have a very powerful publishing tool at your fingertips and we want you to get the most out of it. The following setup and customization tips will help you shape your new blog to be exactly what you want it to be.
Access: Admin Dashboard>Support
The Support menu contains links to a Support Dashboard with help topics, a Frequently Asked Questions page, and a fully integrated Support Ticket System that allows you to submit a support ticket to the Trail Sherpa Design Team.
Access: Admin Dashboard>Appearance
The Appearance menu is a great starting point for any new Sherpa Site admin. From this menu you can switch themes, access your widgets, create custom menus, activate a Premium Theme, change your background image, and create your header with logo.
Widgets and Sidebar
Access: Admin Dashboard>Appearance>Widgets
Your Sherpa Sites blog is heavily customizable and the core of this is the widget functionality. Widgets power both your home page and your sidebar as well as the components of the footer for most themes. Widgets are the building blocks and can be managed with a simple drag and drop. Each element of your blog, like the primary sidebar or the top section of the home page for example, can be customized by using widgets with different functions.
Access: Admin Dashboard>Plugins
Plugins allow you to extend the power of your Sherpa Site. Plugins typically provide a specific function like form creation, SEO management, social media sharing, or image rotation elements to name just a few examples. We have created a fairly extensive library of plugins for you to use. Just activate the plugin and then configure its settings.
Settings for plugins can usually be found at Admin Dashboard>Settings though some plugins will actually add a dedicated menu to the main Admin Dashboard like this: Admin Dashboard>SEO
Access: Admin Dashboard>Forms
Both the Trail Sherpa and Trail Sherpa Design websites have forms powered by Gravity Forms. This plugin is a very robust form creation tool and is available for Pro Level users. You must first activate the plugin (see the Plugins section above for instruction on this) before you can build a form to be placed on a post or page. Once the plugin is activated, creating forms is as easy as dragging and dropping form fields.
For Basic Level Users, the Contact7 plugin is available and works in much the same way but lacks some of the more advanced features of Gravity Forms. Activated the Contact7 plugin just as you would any other plugin and then go to Admin Dashboard>Contact to configure the settings.
Access: Admin Dashboard>Appearance>Menus
Sherpa Sites allow you to use custom menus for your primary menu, a secondary menu if your theme supports it, and even within your site sidebar. You can create different menus for different uses and the Menus page is where you manage all of that. Your custom menu can contain pages, posts, custom links, categories, tags, and more.
Access: Admin Dashboard>Settings
The Settings menu includes the settings menus for most of your activate plugins along with the settings for some of the core functionality that is baked into Sherpa Sites. These settings will allow you to configure how each plugin operates as well as control the experience that your users will have on your site as they surf content and interact through comments and social sharing.
Creating Content – Blog Posts
Access: Admin Dashboard>Posts>Add New
Adding a blog post is simple. Click on the Posts menu and select “Add New” and then begin to build out your post. Be sure to include a category and tags to help users find related posts and to help you organize your content by subject.
You can select “Categories” from the Posts menu to create and define your various categories.
Creating Content – Trail Reports
Access: Admin Dashboard>Trail Reports>Add New
Trail Reports are preformatted blog posts about your hikes. We’ve created a format that is uniform across all Sherpa Sites so that every trail report published has the same look and organization. Because your trail reports will syndicate to the Trail Sherpa it think it’s important to give readers a consistent experience as they explore the library of trail reports and then click through to view them on your site.
Be sure to include categories and tags for each trail report and give it a Featured Image. You will also want to complete the meta fields below the content area that are used to collect the data about your hike including time on trail, distance, and difficulty level.
Creating Content – Reviews
Access: Admin Dashboard>Reviews>Add New
Like Trail Reports, Gear Reviews are preformatted post templates for organizing and publishing your very own gear reviews. Be thorough in completing the available fields as these too will be syndicated to the Trail Sherpa website and you’ll want them to look good so that our visitors click through to your site.
Creating Content – Recipes
Access: Admin Dashboard>Recipes>Add New
Recipes are also a preformatted post template. The team here at Trail Sherpa Design are foodies at heart so we wanted to be sure to give our fellow Top Chefs a chance to share their best recipes. We have big plans for these recipes so do your very best to create visually appealing recipe cards by completing all the fields.
We’ve made it easy to craft the perfect trail recipe with preformatted fields for the standard elements of the recipe like prep time and main ingredient but still provide you the flexibility of text boxes for ingredients and instructions.
Creating Content – Products
Access: Admin Dashboard>Products>Add New
One of the most powerful elements of Sherpa Sites is the integrated eCommerce functionality that we’ve built in. Every Sherpa Sites owner can create a local storefront that lives on the site but the best part is that all of those products are syndicated to the Trail Sherpa site and displayed in a global marketplace. Any products you have for sale on your site will also display in the global marketplace and visitors to the network can click through to view the product details right on your site and complete their transaction.
The eCommerce functionality is very powerful and can utilized in a number of ways. You can sell digital goods, setup affiliate channels, or even manage your own MYOG inventory. Creating a product is as simple as creating a blog post, Trail Report, Gear Review, or Recipe.
But before you can start selling your newly created product from your storefront, you will need to configure your store settings. The settings range from sales tax to inventory control with everything in between. Products can be imported from a CSV file or created manually in the system with variations like color or size.
Access: Admin Dashboard>Tools>Domain Mapping
Want to give your new blog a custom domain? No problem. Sherpa Sites fully supports custom domains if you want something more attractive than http://www.trailsherpa.com/yoursite
You may have to make a few changes to the DNS including adding a CNAME or “A” Record depending on your registrar.
Access: Admin Dashboard>SEO
Your Sherpa Site is powerful right out of the box, but an SEO plugin like WordPress SEO by Yoast takes optimization to the next level. This SEO plugin is available to all Sherpa Sites levels and is invaluable for helping the search engines find your content. With this plugin you can set naming templates for your posts and pages, optimize your content as you write it, and even format your meta data the way you want to. It also handles all of the sitemap creation which is key to ensuring that the search engines can uncover all of you content.
The Trail Sherpa Design Team can help you with the initial configuration of the WordPress SEO plugin if you need the guidance. We also offer this as part of the Basic Sherpa Sites Setup service.
With the plugin installed and configured, you can enter meta data for title, description, keywords, and more using the meta box on any page or post. The meta box looks like this and most of the fields can be automated using the template settings shown above:
Adding Images to the Home Page Rotation
Access: Admin Dashboard>Rotator
The Trail Sherpa website, and the Gear Junkie theme that was installed when you created your Sherpa Site, both use WP Rotator to power the image rotation on the home page. This plugin, along with the Flex Slider for WP Rotator plugin, power the rotation component and make it fully responsive on all devices. You can change the image and the transitions of the slider on the Rotator menu.